Call for an ‘Assembly of the States’ in May 2016

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

It is time for states to undertake specific steps to re-assert their 10th amendment rights against the usurpations of the federal government.

We are, after all, the United States of America, not the United Federal Government of America.

Here’s my proposal for a starting point:

One state legislature can pass an act for it to host an “Assembly of the States” whose purpose will be to identify and share best practices for the assertion by the states of their 10th amendment rights among the several states.

Topics to be addressed would be practical and timely:

(1) Which federal grants (presumably almost all) make the most sense for a state to reject and what are the best ways to deal with the real world consequences of those rejections?

(2) What specific actions shall be taken to resist unconstitutional Supreme Court decisions?

(3) What specific actions should be taken to resist egregious and unlawful federal regulations and which regulations are most deserving of resistance?

(4) What practical free-market health care policies can be introduced at the state level that will improve the availability and delivery of health care services to residents of each state, given the federal government’s ever increasing tentacles of control in that sector of the economy?

The recommendations of the Assembly of the States are not designed to be binding on any individual state; rather they are a set of suggestions for effective actions each state can undertake to restore its constitutionally granted sovereignty based on thoughtful consideration and actual experience.

The proposed Assembly of the States is not an Article V Convention of the States as recommended by conservative author Mark Levin, but there would be no restriction upon the Assembly discussing proposed constitutional amendments for the consideration of any future Convention of the States.

The concept of an Assembly of the States is not entirely original. Several representatives to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the 40-year-old “nonpartisan membership association for state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty,” floated the concept in 2014.

Unlike my proposal, however, the ALEC proposal focused more on setting the stage for an Article V Convention of the States as opposed to a “best practices” 10th amendment gathering.

Like the Article V Convention of the States, however, state legislatures under my proposal do not need any authorization from their state’s governor to either host the Assembly of the States, or send a delegation to the Assembly of the States.

The hosting state legislature would invite state legislatures of the other 49 states to authorize and send a five-member delegation to the Assembly of the States, which I propose be held in May 2016 in the capital city of the host state.

The Assembly of the States would convene irrespective of the number of state legislatures that choose to send a delegation. Should all 50 states choose to send a delegation, a total of 250 delegates would be present. Should just the host state’s delegates attend, a total of only 5 delegates will be present.

There is little concern in my mind, however, that only the host state will send delegates to the proposed Assembly of the States.

Several states may be in the competition to serve as host of the proposed initial Assembly of the States in 2016, including my own state of Tennessee. Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and Idaho all have state legislatures with the independence of spirit necessary to consider hosting the gathering of state delegations.

I doubt any of the state legislatures from the “dirty dozen” blue states in which President Obama received more than 56.2 percent of the vote in 2012 will send delegations, but I leave open the possibility one of them might surprise me. After all, one of the most popular conservative radio talk show hosts in the country, Howie Carr, is based in Boston, Massachusetts and is heard daily in at least half of those “dirty dozen” states.

Whether the proposed Assembly of the States attracts delegations from a mere handful of solid limited government states, all of the “Great 38 States” in which President Obama received less than 56.2 percent of the vote in 2012, or an even greater number, the mere fact that such a gathering convenes at all will send a shot across the bow of the ever growing usurpations of the new federal royalty.

Even more importantly, it will help the states develop a concrete set of action steps that can be undertaken to re-assert their 10th amendment rights and begin to reverse the course of the Big Government juggernaut.

As to the matter of approval of the recommendations made by the Assembly of the States, I propose that each state’s delegation have one vote.

Each state legislature may determine how it wishes to select its 5 delegates. They may select from among their member legislators, appoint any citizens of their state they determine have the appropriate qualities of character and judgment, or hold a statewide election to choose all or some of the 5 delegates in a manner akin to the selection of the delegates to the statewide Constitution ratification conventions of 1787 to 1791.

Those states that choose to elect delegates can do so in the most economical way by “piggy-backing” those elections to the Presidential primary contests already budgeted for and planned in their states for 2016.

My personal preference for my home state of Tennessee would be to select one member of the delegation from the state’s lower legislature, one from the state’s upper legislature, and elect three members of the delegation statewide, either at-large or by geographic area.

The Assembly of the States is intentionally scheduled for May 2016, immediately prior to the 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions so as to allow the Assembly to invite Presidential candidates of both parties to address it.

By watching which candidates accept an invitation to address the Assembly of the States and paying close attention to what those who show up say in their addresses, we should have a good indication which Presidential contenders are serious about restoring constitutionally limited government to the country, and which are mere pretenders.


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